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Sifting Wheat - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8070
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. Luke 22:31
God is not only the master creator, but is also the master communicator. He should be, because after all, He created communication. If you think about it, God could have chosen any number of ways to communicate with us. But God chose to use man to be the instrument of delivery through three primary methods; revelation, inspiration, and personal interaction to convey His message of salvation to us. So it was, that in the course of human history that God inspired men to write to us…
…for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20
So it was, for the first four thousand years of recorded human history. Then, God Himself, fulfilling His own prophetic word, became a Man and lived amongst us to show us in person, how to live and love. But before Jesus left, He wanted to make sure that His disciples were prepared for the future, by telling them ahead of time, what would happen, so that when it did happen, that their faith would be strengthened. (John 16:4)
Jesus warned them on the Mt. of Olives, that in the last days, many would come in His name, pretending to be Him, and deceiving many. And so it was, that almost as soon as Christ ascended, the Apostles began to have to defend the faith. Most of the NT epistles spend significant amounts of time, contending either with false teachings, or corruption that had or was trying to make inroads into the Church. Luke notes in Acts 20, the Apostle Paul’s pleading with those in Ephesus, concerning those who would come in and pervert the Gospel, both from without and within the professing church;
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29-31)
Over the course of 2,000 years, we have seemingly entered into this veritable ‘age of reason’, and in so doing, have pronounced ourselves (the collective we), smarter than God. Humanistic philosophies, regurgitating ancient heresies, pronounced that we are our own creators and that there was no God. Christian academia began to doubt the veracity of God’s word, and began to depart in earnest for more rational and logical human reasoning. “Science” weighed in announcing we are not purposefully created in the image of our Divine Creator, but rather, accidental, evolving from pond scum to monkeys, then later to cavemen, and finally to Homo Erectus. An even sadder fact, is that many of these humanistic philosophies began to flourish in the European seminaries, which then began infecting American universities and seminaries by the early 1800’s.
The end result is, by the turn of the 18th century, Western Christendom began splitting and branching into many denominations, all claiming to have the handle on the truth. In dividing already existent denominations, there were really only two kind of splits that began fracturing the body of Christ; the kind were the apostates/heretics stayed, and the faithful left; or where the apostates/heretics left, and the faithful remained. God the Holy Spirit then began His own movement amongst believers of various denominations, to return to a literal understanding of His Word which is why there was a resurgence in both Pre-Millennialism and Dispensationalism.
Author’s Note; the Church had been strongly Pre-Millennial for the first three centuries prior to Augustine and the birth of the Roman Catholic Church. Dispensationalism was not “created” by John Nelson Darby in the 1830’s. He only codified, or systematized a pre-existent belief that God worked through progressive revelation, through the varying ages of man.
So while God was busy moving believers to depart from dead orthodoxy of lifeless denominations, Satan was also very busy. Satan’s tactic? Sowing heretical and apostate seeds amongst the believing church to draw away many from the faith. New movements such as Mormonism, Millerites, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah Witness, Christian Science, etc. seemingly sprang up overnight, and were gaining popularity but were also introducing non-biblical teachings and leading many astray.
Any view that denies the deity or humanity of Christ, or changes the Gospel message, is heretical and/or apostate, and thus should be avoided at all cost.
From the late 1700’s through the 1900’s, the Christian Missionary movement rapidly began to spread the Christian faith around the world. Satan’s strategy against this? Divide and conquer. Amongst other doctrines, Satan really hammered away at eschatology as an area that he could wreak havoc. So it was in the 1800’s that it seemed that Christianity really was on the verge of conquering the world for Christ. This brought in the man-centered, humanistic idea of Post-Millennialism (today known as either Kingdom Now or Dominion Theology). The idea was that the world would continue to be evangelized and ‘conquered’ in spirit for Christ. Once this happened, and only then, could Christ return.
Juxtaposed to this, was the 1,500 year old Roman Catholic faith which denied that there would be a literal future Christ-ruled kingdom on earth at all. They believed they were the Kingdom which began at the Cross, and that the Pope was the Vicar of Christ on the earth. The Protestant Reformers carried over with them from the same Roman Catholic Church Eschatology of Amillennialism. Amongst the older Protestant denominations who came out of the Reformation, Amillennialism (leaven) is still the dominant view.
Both Amillennialism, and Post-Millennialism should be viewed as aberrant views, as they cannot be substantiated by Scripture.
Recently I’ve had a spate of conversations with professing Christians who have some pretty extreme positions on prophecy and Christianity in general.
One man, denounced all prophecy as ‘dumb, dumb, dumb’, and that we were throwing our support for the Devil by showing how evil and rotten the world is. He blatantly denounced the modern state of Israel and said that the true Israelites, were Palestinian. Another conversation is with a man who is Post-Trib and supports “Pastor” Steve Anderson’s heretical Post-Trib/Replacement theology teachings. This and denies or at least questions, the historicity of the 6,000,000 Jewish dead during the Holocaust of WWII.
Author’s Note: This appears to be a growing Trend within Christendom. It seems like it has become vogue these days to not outright deny the Holocaust, but redefine how bad it was by substantially reducing the numbers of those Jews who died in the Nazi concentration camps like Treblinka and Auschwitz. The more Christian’s embrace Replacement Theology, the more they end up hating God’s chosen people. (See Jeremiah 30-31 and Zech. 2:8)
Another man at church, while well-meaning I’m sure, stated that Christianity is simple and we just don’t need to worry about all the specifics, and let God worry about everything. I replied that while I agree in theory, we should at least, be knowledgeable enough in Scripture to know why we believe what we believe. Too many Christians take this approach and because they don’t know the specifics, get sucked into cults or aberrant views pretending to be Christian and become combat ineffective.
Really, these are just but three examples of the hundreds I have personally come across with people who just are either ignorant by choice, i.e…they don’t want to study to show themselves approved (2 Tim 2:15), or they willfully choose to believe some parts of the Bible and not others, thus skewing their entire understanding of the big picture.
As Christian’s, we are called to move beyond spiritual infancy, into full maturity in our faith in Jesus Christ. In the OT, we see the nation of Israel constantly in battle or war with their surrounding and vicious neighbors. But nowhere in the NT, does it call Christian’s to take up literal arms and fight our enemies. Rather, our warfare is spiritual in nature, and primarily falls in the areas of ideology, theology, and philosophy.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:11-12
Moreover, the battles we face in a post-Christian culture, who is rapidly becoming ‘anti-Christian’, all has demonic influencers behind the scenes pulling the strings. Whether we are talking about eugenics (abortion, euthanasia), racism, homosexuality, gangs, drugs, pornography, murder, terrorism, cults, the occult, political and legal corruption, etc., all has its roots back to the ‘father of lies’, who is Satan. These are simply symptoms of the underlying issue, which is human sin and the fallen nature of our universe. You cannot wield a gun or a sword against these and hope to fix the brokenness. Whether they admit it or not, the world looks to Christianity to be the standard bearer for what is right. And when the professing church looks no different than they, it is spit out trampled underfoot.
Our goal, as believers, is to move from the point of our salvation and our spiritual infancy, into the sanctification process, which is the walk and maturing of the believer who are not swayed by false teachings and empty human reasoning. We can only do this, when we take God’s word, at its word. Remember, God, the master communicator, gave us the Bible so we could know, not so we could be confused. (1 Cor. 14:33) Christians who promote ignorance by stating that we can’t know what God’s word really means, rejects the counsel of the Holy Spirit who brings God’s word to understanding. Christians who use the excuse that we just need to trust Jesus and dismiss all the details are doing themselves a great disservice. They are going into battle without the sword and shield. (Eph. 6:10-18) It is usually these kinds of Christians who the cults (ravenous wolves) prey on relentlessly. A true Christian’s salvation isn’t in jeopardy if they are caught away into false teachings, but that doesn’t mean Satan will not continue to sift you as wheat, to make you an ineffective witness for Christ. Aside from our armor, we are given different gifts and ministries, and are according to God’s perfect purpose, predestined to live in the exact time and place each of us are called too…
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Eph. 4:11-16
The most powerful thing on earth, is the man or woman, mature in the faith, and living according to God’s purpose and calling. Nuclear bombs, superpower nations, and tsunamis can’t stop us when we are walking according to His will. Think about it, if you are a believer, you have sealed inside of you, the God who spoke the universe into existence. (Eph. 1:11-14) When Christ told Peter, and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven, (Matt. 16:19) He was speaking to all of us who equally share in our common salvation because we all are in the same body of Christ. And remember…
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Cor. 10:3-6